News / Calgary

City of Calgary seeks post-secondaries to revitalize downtown

On Monday, councillors will discuss strategies that came out of the Downtown Economic Summit in March

One of the city's priorities is to bring more post-secondary downtown.

METRO FILE

One of the city's priorities is to bring more post-secondary downtown.

The entrepreneurial minds of Calgary want to bring a university campus downtown.

On Monday, councillors will discuss strategies that came out of the Downtown Economic Summit in March hoping to kickstart the struggling downtown core as the downturn continues to dog the city's downtown.

One of the city's priorities is to bring more post-secondary downtown – especially building a downtown university campus with student housing. On their list, this tops the need for a new arena.

Most post-secondaries in the city aren't thinking downtown right now – apart from ACAD.

"The Alberta College of Art + Design is currently engaged in conversation with the city and are exploring all potential opportunities for expansion," read a statement from spokesman Steven Hodges. "We are still in that early exploratory stage."

According to the report, which cites stats from a special study done by the Conference Board of Canada, Calgary is unlikely to see any new downtown office real estate investment for at least 12 years.

During the downturn, between 2016 and until 2018, CBOC expects $7.5 billion to be wiped out from the assessed value of the city's downtown office market. And that's bad news from the City of Calgary because it means the total tax generated from the buildings won't surpass its 2015 peak until 2020.

The vacancy rate is also expected to remain above 20 per cent until 2023 and above double-digits until 2032.

One of the trends in the core the city hopes could help is repurposing the empty office space to residential, but none of the post-secondaries Metro approached had a residence conversion in the plans.

Bow Valley College, which already has a presence downtown, doesn't have residences. Last year, they told Metro there were plans to look at the Central Library building for future expansions, but on Thursday they were unable to respond to such a hypothetical request.

Mount Royal University doesn't currently have a presence downtown. Annalise Van Ham, acting Vice-President of Administrative Services said there are no plans to expand to the city's core.

“We are focused on investing in our Lincoln Park Campus to ensure it meets the needs of Alberta learners," she said. "Future decisions around our physical space will be guided by our Campus Master Plan.”

The University of Calgary has a downtown campus but they also don't have any new downtown plans. SAIT, which already has a culinary campus downtown also shied away from revealing any future plans.

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